Saturday, February 27, 2010


  • It's been a helluva a winter in Philadelphia -- almost 80 inches of snow and it's only the beginning of March.
  • I am not a winter person.

Anyway, I've spent some of my snowbound days reading a new book of poetry by Liz Bradfield entitled "Approaching Ice". Liz is a naturalist who has spent time in Alaska and other cold places, and has created a stunning book of poems that trace the journeys of polar explorers interspersed with moments of personal reflection and insight. It is a book that made me thankful that my biggest problems in a blizzard are the line in the supermarket and whether the cable goes out. You can find the book on Amazon or get your local independent bookseller to order you a copy.

A while ago, I was doing some research for a poem when I came across an article that said that there was a 50-50 chance that the polar ice caps would totally melt last summer. I started thinking about what would happen if all those who had been lost in the ice were finally freed...and the poem went from there.


If the ice melts, there will be
no floods, no tidal waves.
No need for sharp metal at the prow.
No tins of meat sealed against the cold.
No one searching. No one awaiting word.

The open waters will unbind
those whom it has held,
now left without landmarks
to find safe passage home.

You are lost to me
on twilight afternoons
when you search past yourself
through black windows,
adrift at the kitchen table
while dinner warms on the stove.

I wait for your return
through ice-strewn waters,
your presence slowly revealed
like toys in the backyard
after a long winter.

Beth Feldman Brandt, 2009

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Darwin Poetry Project Performances

"Litt's setting of Brandt's "Transmutation," for cello, violin, and flute,
forcefully welded text and music in illuminating Darwin's stuggle with
faith and science"

-Daniel Webster, The Philadelphia Inquirer , 2/23/2010

The "Dialogues with Darwin" Poetry Project wrapped up last weekend with performances by Network for New Music at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. The range of pieces gave an interesting collection of perspectives on Darwin's life and work. I have to say it was an adventure from beginning to end that culminated in a moving interpretation of my poem "Transmutation" by composer Andrew Litts. There should be a recording posted up at some point (since it was played by a professional ensemble, we can't just throw it up on YouTube) but it the meantime, you can read about it by checking out the review in The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Broad Street Review.

Of course, we don't believe in reviews...except when they are good ones!

Thanks to all of you who came out to the performances or sent long-distance encouragement. Stay tuned for more Darwin collaborations with my now favorite composer.

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